11 May 2015

MARSHLAND (/SLASH 1/2 Mini-Festival, 2015)


Original Title:
La isla mínima

Spain, 2014
Director: Alberto Rodríguez


After years and years of countless unnecessary Dahmer- and/or Gacy-related (*yawn*) serial-killer-sploitation crapfests, the serial-killer-genre finally starts to recover from all that garbage and goes back to its roots, back to its strengths - so, after the amazing "The Frozen Ground" (Review here!), lucky me got to see another stunningly amazing serial-killer-thriller, centered around detectives, dead bodies and a gruesome killer: "Marshland", the latest feature by Spanish director Alberto Rodríguez ("Unit 7"), taking place in the post-Franco-regime Spain of 1980, following two ideologically and politically divided detectives trying to solve the mystery behind a series of brutal murders of young adolescent girls
in a small remote town.

The very basis of the plot might not be exactly original, but who cares about such trifles when everything else is just plain awesome?! "Marshland" is a grim and staggeringly powerful thriller, set in the early post-Franco-era of Spain when the political climate was confusing and unfathomable. Right from the super-gorgeous AND super-odd opening where you get to see an array of marsh-images (based on the photographies of Hector Garrido), Rodríguez creates an unbelievably gripping and gobsmackingly mesmerising atmosphere that slightly reminded me of films like "Zodiac" or "8MM". The pace is slow, but never boring, thanks to the super-strong direction and 'swamploads' of spellbinding suspense.

The story seems to be simple at first, but over the course of the movie, you realize how complex and eclectic it actually is. This is not just another murder mystery, this is actually about so much more: unemployment and money tightness, longing for the past and fear of the future, political repression, closets full of skeletons, coming of age, lust, sexual perversion, mortality etc. Certain people doing very bad ways, just because they can... certain things happening because no-one seems to care about anything... everything goes down the drain, or sinks into the marsh. It's thrilling, and it's barnstorming, and it's unsettling and it's shocking. At times, it's all at once which is just wow!

Acting-wise, everyone delivers an absolutely flawless performance, most notably Javier Gutiérrez as cynical drinker with a dark, dark past, and Raúl Arévalo as his partner, a slightly rebellious non-drinker. Together, they're one of the most unlikely, yet most fascinating detective teams I've ever witnessed in my entire life (Hell, a sequel/prequel would be great!). Regular Rodríguez-collaborator Alex Catalán's cinematography is stunning, delivering vivid and colorful imagery, as well as lots of ravishing grimness. Julio de la Rosa's ("Juan of the Dead") eerie score is a masterful treat for the ears. Massive kudos to the amazing ending, the breathtaking nightly car chase, the fantastic scene with the bird and the inclusion of, erm, Baccara's "Yes Sir, I Can Boogie".

It's no suprise that it was showered with awards last year (see here). "Marshland" is simply outstanding!


  1. I had tickets to go see this at a film festival 2 months ago and there was a fault with the movie and they couldn't show it. I was devastated because it's my most anticipated movie. Anyway, they showed Wild Tales instead and it was outstanding. I recommend it.

    Still, I have to see this. Glad to see you enjoyed it :)

    1. Haven't seen Wild Tales yet, but I heard lots of VERY positive reviews about it. Hope you get to see Marshland soon!

  2. Yay!
    I'm so glad to hear that this is good. I was sold on the trailer.
    It's out here at the end of June so not too long to wait!
    K :-)

    1. Keep calm and be patient. June is coming soon! :)


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